TWRA regional offices probably receive more calls about coyotes than any other wildlife species. Fears and concerns over danger to pets, livestock and even children fill the minds of people across the state. While anecdotal evidence suggests that the coyote population is expanding, coyotes pose very little threat to human safety. Are they potentially dangerous to humans? Sure. But anything with long sharp teeth and claws can be dangerous…but are your chances of being attacked high? Not at all.
Coyote attacks on people are very rare and it is important to remember that there have only been two recorded incidences in the United States and Canada of humans being killed by coyotes (http://m.humanesociety.org/…/coyot…/tips/coyotes_people.html).
For comparison, an average of 30 people are killed by domestic dogs every year (https://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities.php). To put it into further perspective, more people are killed by taking selfies or being trampled to death while shopping on black Friday each year than are bitten by coyotes (https://www.statista.com/ch…/6024/causes-of-death-in-the-us/).
Coyotes are now present in every US state except for Hawaii. Furthermore, they are thriving in and around urban areas including some of the nations largest cities, such as Chicago and New York. They are so adaptable and opportunistic that they are here to stay and citizens must adapt to living with coyotes.
Concerning threats to pets, many people believe that urban coyotes primarily eat garbage and pets. Although coyotes are predators, they are also opportunistic and shift their diets to take advantage of the most available prey. Coyotes are generally scavengers and predators of small prey but can shift to large prey occasionally. The most common food item for coyotes is small rodents. Through necropsy (post-mortem evaluations), scat investigation, visual observation, and high-tech science, it seems the majority of coyotes do NOT, in fact, rely on pets or garbage for their diets (https://urbancoyoteresearch.com).
Regarding how to protect pets from coyotes, citizens must remember that pets are the responsibility of their owners and should be properly contained and controlled, especially at dawn, dusk and at night. Also, there is a statewide leash law in Tennessee which requires owners to keep dogs under control at all times. If pet owners keep their pets properly contained and controlled, there is little chance of a coyote attack.
Although history shows that lethal control of coyotes has been mainly ineffective, there is an open season with no limit on coyote harvest in Tennessee. Also, if conditions are not conducive to hunting or shooting, there are licensed Animal Damage Control agents in Tennessee that will assist property owners with coyote control for a fee. Those interested in hiring professional assistance can go to the following website for a list of licensed agents in their area: https://twra.state.tn.us/…/Pag…/Login/ViewActivePermits.aspx